Friday, November 23, 2007

NASA technology for prevention of infectious outbreaks!

According to an article published on November 6th, "NASA technology helps predict and prevent future pandemic outbreaks", The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's 14 satellites work to observe the environment of the earth and consequently are being used to predict and prevent infections disease outbreaks around the world. Specifically, the article mentioned the used of remote sensing technology use in the prediction of Rift Valley Fever, Ebola and West Nile Virus outbreaks.

Daily data is collected regarding changes in the environment (which is a common factor in infectious disease emergence). This data is then transferred to the CDC for one, where it is analyzed.

“The use of this technology is not only essential for the future of curbing the spread of infectious diseases,” explains John Haynes, public health program manager for the NASA Earth Science Applied Sciences Program. “NASA satellites are also a cost-effective method for operational agencies since they are already in orbit and in use by scientists to collect data about the Earth’s atmosphere.”

NASA also claims to be targeting malaria in particular, although I am personally somewhat skeptical of the necessity of remote sensor technology in tracking this parasite as its prevalence is already so high in much of the world and the environmental changes that foster increased malaria infection rates, such as deforestation are quite apparent on the ground level.

Source: American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
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